Rob Bolton

The 19th Hole

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It's Not So Elementary

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mike Glasscott, Columnist (@GlassWGCL)


Choosing Tom Watson as the next Ryder Cup Captain isn’t going to help the U.S.A. back into the winner’s circle.


The best compliment I can give Watson is what you see is what you get. He oozes class and dignity, greatness and competitiveness. He’s won the Ryder Cup as a captain and a player.


With that being said, it makes me wonder why the PGA of America decided to go with a man, who at 63, has already “been there, done that” with the Ryder Cup instead of infusing the competition with a fresh set of views and ideas, which has been the mantra since 1987 when Jack Nicklaus was the final “multiple” captain.


The great Watson will not call on himself to play on the links that he’s so famously ran over in his storied career. Instead, he’ll have to find someone that can emulate his performance and, frankly, there aren’t any U.S. golfers who fit that bill.


So that leads me to this question: How important is the Ryder Cup captain?


My answer is simple: Not very.


If the Ryder Cup captain was an important position, why would the U.S. ever replace a winning captain? Captains don’t mishit shots and they don’t poorly read putts.


It’s obvious that those in charge feel that the captain -- win or lose -- should be replaced. I don’t agree with that. Paul Azinger or Ben Crenshaw should have been the captain until they lost the competition. But that makes too much sense.


Simple, I know, but you don’t replace Bill Belichick after he wins the Super Bowl. Nick Saban didn’t leave Alabama after winning a national championship last season. Coach K is still at Duke after winning a title two years ago.


Just because the players change, for the most part every two years, doesn’t mean the captain needs to do the same.


Do you think the European Ryder Cup captain has any influence on how Ian Poulter plays in this competition? Me neither.


Watson will win the press conference but that won’t matter if his players can’t beat Poulter and the Europeans on the course at Gleneagles in 2014.



Ryan O'Sullivan, Columnist/Contributor (@RyanGolfBlogger)


By process of elimination, Tom Watson had to be the pick to captain the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2014. There were other worthy names out there including David Toms, Fred Couples, Larry Nelson and Paul Azinger, but each has a fault.


The problem with Toms is that he’s too current. Perhaps the most important responsibility of a Ryder Cup captain is the proper use of his captain’s picks. Many people theorize that the final 2012 captain’s pick went to Jim Furyk. Given a choice of a Furyk or a young gun, it’s easier for a 40something captain to remember the glory of his veteran contemporary in his prime, ignoring current flaws. It becomes less subjective and more personal.


Nelson and Azinger have a common problem, and it’s the opposite of Toms. They aren’t current enough. It may be en vogue for a Rickie Fowler, Bud Cauley or another potential under-30 whiz kid in 2014 to speak highly of Nelson, but they can’t remember him enough as a player to relate. Azinger is more known for political tweets than golf.


Couples would fit all categories with the exception of being tied up winning the Presidents Cup every other year. He’s the next best choice.


Find me a knock on Watson. He should have won the 2009 British Open, but isn’t so close to players that it would cost him objectivity. He’s beloved in Scotland and is the last U.S. Captain to win in Europe.


And he’s almost as cool as Freddie.



Rob Bolton, Senior Editor/Writer (@RobBoltonGolf)


I love Tom Watson. I also love Davis Love III. Paul Azinger, too. In fact, you'd have to go back quite a while to find a guy that I didn't support as captain of the United States Ryder Cup team, and that's only because, like most alive on the planet today, my connection to the game is shorter than the rich history of the biennial competition that dates back to 1927.


Devotion aside, there has long been a polarizing dichotomy between ceremonial nods towards captains and the emphasis on winning the competition. As the saying goes, captains get too much credit when they win and too much blame when they don't. So, it stands to reason that there is too much attention focused on who actually gets the gig.


Because of an expected turnstile among leaders, winning philosophies (like Azinger's) don't get a chance to grow roots. If the PGA of America was more serious about winning, a victorious captain would get the choice to continue or step down.


At the end of the day, the Ryder Cup is an exhibition, so it's understandable why it really doesn't matter who holds the reins. It's unlikely that most fans of the NBA can recite the last five head coaches of each team at the All-Star Game, not to mention remember who won it. However, the Ryder Cup rises above that. Winning does matter. It's just that the approach at determining the captain doesn't reflect it logically.


That's where Ted Bishop steps in. Newly appointed as the president of the PGA of America (an organization that most golf fans only associate with the Ryder Cup, PGA Championship and other televised events), one of his first decisions at the helm just might wind up as the seminal moment of his tenure. Bringing back Watson to lead the U.S. charge at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014 is a rededication to the scoreboard.


And it's about time.



Ned Brown, Contributor (@Esoxgolf)


It's easy to understand why Tom Watson was picked to be the next Ryder Cup captain. The PGA of America wants a known commodity that is well-respected on both sides of the Atlantic and who is viewed as a guy that can deliver a winning Ryder Cup team.


Watson is all about winning, so instead of trying to balance out the starts, you will see him use the hot hand.


He has the weight of being an eight-time major winner behind him, and if he feels that any of the big-name players is dragging the team down, he will sit that guy without worrying about feelings being hurt.


Would David Toms or Larry Nelson have been great picks to be captain?


I think both would be fine captains, and you could see the hurt on Nelson when he was interviewed by Golf Channel. However, the Sunday collapse by the Americans just a few weeks ago probably doomed the change of having a first-time captain in 2014.


If I was a player on the next Ryder Cup team, I would expect Watson to be all business. And even though he might not be the most fun captain to have, I would expect that there will be a lot of enjoyment after taking back the cup and making amends for the epic collapse at Medinah.


Rob Bolton is Senior Editor/Writer for Rotoworld’s golf content. He can be reached via email at and on Twitter.
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